- Calls decision contemptuous negotiations with unions
- Gov’t cites COVID-19 for back-tracking
The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has come down hard on the government for deferring increment of salaries. “The government has shockingly adopted a unilateral decision tantamount to a decree to cut and defer salary increment of public servants for six months tentatively, meaning that it could be more than six months,” BOFEPUSU said.
In making the controversial decision recently, the government cited COVID-19 as the reason. “Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the government has raised the flag regarding its inability to afford increases for 2020/21 as previously negotiated with public service unions in 2019 and locked in for two years financial years of 2019/20 and 2020/21,” the government said.
The agreed increments were of 10 percent for the A and B salary bands and a 6 percent for the C and D bands for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial years.
The unions yesterday labelled the government’s back-tracking unfortunate and contemptuous of the spirit of good faith in negotiations and bargaining.
“Unilateralism dents and intoxicates industrial relations, something that is gravely terrible for the socio-economic landscape of the country,” BOFEPUSU said
The union federation appealed the government to become thoughtful enough to espouse sound industrial relations by respecting and complying with particulars of its Collective Bargaining Agreement with public sector unions.
“Government must be sensitive to the reality that should she unrelentingly persist with her mission, such will further exacerbate the already virulent industrial relations in the public service,” BOFEPUSU warned in a statement signed by its Deputy Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.
“On another note, the Federation is tremendously disquieted by violation of workers’ rights in the private sector during COVID-19 pandemic. There are some ruthless and vicious companies that are making drastic and prejudicial decisions affecting employees, and aggravatingly without even involving employees or their unions.”
The union federation called on the government to institute thorough inspection processes for compliance with labour laws and policies as a part of intensifying measures of protecting workers in the advent of COVID-19. It urged the government to enhance economic assistance to the unemployed, the self-employed, those in the informal sector, and small businesses as vulnerable groups hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19.
“It is at this stage that we submit for creation of Botswana Unemployment Insurance Scheme(BUIS), which the employer can process for tabling at Parliament by the Minister of Employment, Productivity and Skills Development,” said BOFEPUSU.
“For evidence and policy options, reference can be made to unemployment insurance schemes around the world and guidance by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This scheme is important in (an) economy like ours for protection of employees against the risk of job loss as the intervention provides income support conditional on some job search requirement or participation in active labour market policies. It is fundamentally urgent to enhance the country ‘s policy framework on social security, social protection, and social justice for the welfare of the workers and the citizens of this Country.”
BOFEPUSU said all efforts of corrective and developmental policy framework can be accomplished when there is prevalence of effective social dialogue at various levels of the economy for national consensus on the developmental path of this Republic.